Gamer in Asia: why I want to throw my PS4 into the South China Sea
Last month I crumbled to my baser instincts and bought a Playstation 4 (PS4). I knew it was a dumb decision, that it was too expensive, that there was lack of software, and that I could pick one up much more cheaply when I went to America. But who can come between a nerd and his deepest, darkest desires? Logic never stood a chance.
I bought the PS4 with a copy of Infamous: Second Son, which was awesome. Unfortunately I completed the game on the hardest difficulty, achieving 100 percent completion and both endings over a single weekend. After that my PS4 became a paperweight, squatting next to my TV and glowering at me every time I turned on my Playstation 3.
But things began to change recently. The indie scene has begun to pick up, and some cool stuff was finally getting released on the PS4. Great, I thought, as I queued up Octodad,Child of Light, and Transistor for download. This is going to be fun.
I love digital downloads
I live in China and I travel a lot. I don’t know where I will live next year. For these reasons, I have been a big fan of digital editions. I can’t transport forty boxed games, but I can take an extra suitcase full of (carefully wrapped and vacuum-sealed) consoles with hundreds of gigs of pre-downloaded games within.
Given the Playstation 4’s connectivity, it was the first choice for a lover of digital editions like me: it can get the latest games downloaded automatically and I can even use my phone to buy new games. And of course, by the magic of internet-pixies, I can even leave my PS4 on standby and it will do it all automatically! It was my gaming wet-dream, but it turned into a nightmare.
What the hell is queue?
I don’t know who designed the PS4 downloading system, but they must be a “unique thinker”. Or just lobotomized. The PS4 download screen is a testament on how to do something already perfected completely wrong.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the lack of a queuing system on the PS4. If you have ten downloads going on your system, they are happening simultaneously. That’s great if you have an internet connection like greased lightning, but on my crappy six MBPS, that just doesn’t fly. I would rather play one game now than watch eight games trickle into my PS4
To make matters worse, there isn’t even a pause function. Even the PS3 has a pause function so you could prioritise what you wanted to download, and when. With the PS4, it’s all or nothing, and the only way to speed things up is to delete the download completely.
It’s a sad fact that most torrenting software, which are made by enthusiastic amateurs living off donations, have more functionality than the PS4. Why can’t I make one download a priority? Why can’t I rank them? These should have been some pretty basic requirements for the latest and greatest in gaming technology.
This would all be forgivable if the downloading function worked, but it doesn’t.
My PS4 seems to have internet speed schizophrenia; sometimes it thinks it’s way faster than it is, sometimes it crawls at only a few kilobytes per minute. My time estimate constantly flickers between “99+” hours or just a few. Come on Sony, you’re gonna give me an ulcer.
It makes it impossible for me to predict when my download is going to be complete, and that makes things difficult. My life revolves around playing games, so being able to know whether Watch Dogs will be downloaded today, tomorrow, or sometime in the next century is important.
When you’re running late on a review, it would be nice to know how late you’re going to be instead of just offering up prayers to Sony’s servers. By the way, we tried that earlier this week, but Sony’s gods are cruel and unresponsive.
It’s not China’s fault
I know that on the tips of your tongues are the words “Iain, you live in China, what do you expect?” But this time, it’s not China’s fault. I am using an Asian account based in Hong Kong and I live in Xiamen, which is less than three-hundred miles away. In internet terms, Sony Computer Entertainment Hong Kong and I are neighbors
What’s more, I frequently download PS3, PS Vita, and Nintendo games with no problems at all, and do most of my online gaming on either South East Asian or North American servers, so I know that it’s not a case of China’s over-aggressive censorship. Sure I don’t have the highest speeds in the world, but I don’t have anything like the problems I have had with my PS4.
This is 100 percent a Sony problem, and more than that, it is PS4 problem. And one that I hope they fix. Soon.
To top it all off, my PS4 downloader also has the temperament of a grumpy three-year-old. Every now and again the downloader just says “no” and all downloads stop. There’s no reason for this, it’s just a little protest against my unreasonable desire to play games on my games console.
And while I’m complaining, can anyone explain why I need to manually restart an interrupted download? Do it yourself, you lazy bastard! I don’t want to come home after eight hours in the hot south China sun and find that my PS4 is sitting there with with a notification saying “download failed, please click retry.” How many people just give up and say, “well I know I paid for it, but clicking that button is too much hard work. I’ll just cancel it”? Nobody in the history of gaming, the internet, or common sense has ever made that decision. Just restart the download yourself, you nightmarish monster-console!
I also occasionally get the error “DNS Failure (NW-31250-1)”, which in layman terms translates as “you are fucked”. Receiving this errors mean you have to delete the download and start again. Can you imagine how good that feels after waiting 48 hours for Watch Dogs to download? (Latest review ever, sorry guys.)
How does this happen? I haven’t had a download fail like that in years on PC, Xbox 360 or PS3, so how can it be happening to my shiny new console of less than a year?
Why, just why?
The irony is that my Playstation 3, a console a whole generation behind, doesn’t do any of this. The PS4 has nearly a decade’s head start on the PS3, and has the same company’s greatest minds behind its creation, so what happened? I can only assume that PS4 downloading system was created on the Friday afternoon before Golden Week by a pothead college intern, or an angry game-hating chimp.
Whatever the case, I think Sony needs to take a step backward, and make sure that its current generation isn’t lacking anything the previous generation had. Newer isn’t always better, and without the software to backup the hardware, my PS4 is presently more of an exceptionally expensive paperweight than a true next-gen console.